Oscar Wilde wrote “most people are other people . . . their lives a mimicry, their passions a quotation.” Such it is for Alfie Byrne, the self-effacing lead in Terrence McNally’s A Man of No Importance (based on the 1994 film starring Albert Finney), who lives locked away with his books, quoting Wilde and producing amateur theater at his small Dublin church. Alfie literally and figuratively lives in a closet, his plays providing a sense of control, until he is forced to grow up and face the reality he has avoided so long.
His ensemble are friends, and part of the joy of this delightfully engaging and emotional musical at Pride Films and Plays is the sincere pleasure that his community takes in putting on plays—in this case Wilde’s Salome, which (surprise) does not go over well with the church. Ryan Lanning brings captivating charm as the fraught Alfie, with a melodic voice in songs like “Love Who You Love” that carry a deeper meaning as he struggles with unrequited longing for his colleague and friend Robbie (the boisterous Nick Arceo).
Director Donterrio Johnson has cast actors with stellar voices and real musical and instrumental chops. Ciera Dawn’s Adele, who Alfie casts as Salome, embodies her princess character with grace and a show-stopping soprano. Tommy Bullington is hilarious as Carney, his sometimes lead, foil, and sister’s boyfriend. Christopher Davis wrenches tears with the tender “The Cuddles Mary Gave,” remembering his late wife. While many of Stephen Flaherty’s songs have a similar melodic structure, the honest lyrics by Flaherty and Lynn Ahrens and powerful performances like those behind “The Streets of Dublin” keep the blood pumping. v